Local Activities With Children

The Greater Binghamton area in upstate New York's is full of kid friendly, fun activities. 
Here are some of our favorites....

Information about the event or activity mentioned is available on the page accessible by the link, but you may need to scroll down in order to find it. 

Note:  Always double check hours and admission prices before you go!  We have provided links to appropriate websites, but many of them do not get updated regularly.  Click on red underlined words for more information.

Parks and Playgrounds

City of Binghamton Parks Look under the documents heading for summer program information.  Some of the programs are open only to Binghamton Residents, but the Safety Town program for kids going into K and 1st is also available to nonresidents.
  • Recreation (Rec) Park (Beethoven St. and Highland Ave.) is located in the west side of Binghamton and has a carousel, kiddie and large pools, playground and many athletic fields.
  • Ross Park (60 Morgan Rd.) in Binghamton has the Discovery Center, Story Garden, playground, zoo, and hiking trails.
    • The Story Garden has play structures for the kids based on our favorite childhood stories. Free admission.
  • Binghamton is famous for its antique carousels with free rides.  The most current, up-to-date hours are posted here (which are not 100% accurate).  Our kids like to combine a swim in Highland Park or a visit to the zoo in Ross Park with a carousel ride or three.

Broome County Parks (click for a webpage link, phone number and address for each park)

  • Otsiningo Park is on the river and has a large playground area.  There is a structure designed for younger kids as well as one for the more adventurous children.  Also, next to the playground there is a special area with activities for a parent to do with a preschool child. There are also miles of trails that are great for walking, bike riding or skating.  
  • Finch Hollow Nature Center has some short walking trails and free programs for kids and families.
  • Cole Park, Dorchester Park and Greenwood Park, have sandy beaches, swimming, trails, boating and a playground (except Cole Park).  Greenwood Park has camping and cross country skiing.

Parks in Vestal

  • Arnold Park is the largest park in Vestal.  My kids love the huge shaded sandbox.  We also enjoy the hiking trails—if you drive on the road between the playground and the picnic shelter, there is a parking lot for the nature trails.
  • African Road Park is another fun playground.  It has a creek that kids can explore, but it has no bathrooms (as of summer 2009).
  • Vestal’s Rail Trail playground is also known as "Hot Dog Park" by many members' children due to the shape of one of the play structures.  The play area is about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot and the bathrooms.  The rail trail itself is a 4 mile round trip route with a paved, straight roadway for walking, biking or skating.
  • Stair Park, off of Murrray Hill Road, also has a nice playground and some nearby woods for hiking.

Parks in the Endicott/Endwell/Union area:  The seasonal flyer is available on this website with activities for all ages open to both residents and nonresidents.   Pool hours are posted in the links below, but you may want to call and confirm.

  • West Endicott Park (N. Page Ave. and W. Franklin St.) is a favorite of my kids because it has a huge shaded sandbox.  The play equipment is fairly small, but kids still enjoy it.  It also has a free carousel and a free wading pool which starts at 1 foot and gradually becomes 2’ deep. Entry to the pool is via ramp. The snack bar is usually open. With it's large pavilion and close proximity to all activities, this park is usually teeming with kids in the summer!  
  • G.F. Johnson Park (Oak Hill Rd. and Witherill St.) is one of several parks in the Village of Endicott.  This one has two good size playgrounds, a pool (small fee), a free carousel and a decent and convenient bathroom. Across the street is Joey’s, a favorite for Italian Ice and wood grilled pizza.
  • Highland Park (on Hooper Rd., just past Farm to Market Rd.) is the main park in this area with several playgrounds, pools, a free carousel and lots of space for kids to run around.
    • An awesone brand new playground (June 2011) has been installed near the carousel.
    • If you take the main road into the park all the way to the end, you will see a big parking lot, bathrooms and a very nice Toddler Playground—the school bus with two steering wheels is one of the highlights.
    • The pool area has a wading pool (goes up to 3' deep) and a large deeper pool with diving board. 
    • Throughout the year, look for free Johnny Only performances geared toward preschoolers.
Information about parks and sports in Tioga County and Owego can be found here.

Pools

Be sure to check each pool's hours of operation and length of season as they vary individually.  Also, note that most pools do not allow any floatation devices or toys.
  • The city of Binghamton has several seasonal outdoor pools. Click here for a list, including hours.
  • The Town of Union runs the Highland Park Pool and the West Endicott Park Pool, for more info, click here.  NOTE that the pool hours may not be accurate.
  • The Town of Vestal has two pools (may need to scroll down).  The outdoor pool has a very shallow wading pool as well as a large pool with diving board.  The indoor pool in the high school (205 Woodlawn Dr., Vestal) has a family swim many weekends between October and March for a small fee (double check the website for dates and times).  Though the pool is deep, plenty of life jackets are available.
  • The Owego Free Academy (1 Sheldon Guile Blvd., Owego, New York, 13827) also has open swim on the weekends and some evenings.  There is a smaller pool with a ramp entry that is 3 - 4 feet and another large pool with diving boards.  Check their website (in the right hand column, look for OFA Pool) for the current calendar.  Admission is free.  Here is more info about swimming in Tioga County.
  • The Jewish Community Center offers community swim on Sunday afternoons for a fee.  Enter through the door next to the playground and press the buzzer to be allowed in.
  • CF Johnson Park in Johnson City has a small free spray play area.  The park also has a carousel and playground.
  • The Town of Conklin has a pool with a small waterslide (no info online).

U-Pick Farms and Animal Farms

Here is a list of animal farms, farm markets (some with apple & berry picking) & gardens in Broome County.
  • Fantasy World Alpaca Farm open year round in the town of Maine. Call ahead to arrange a free tour.
  • We love taking our kids apple and berry picking.  Click here for a list of u-pick places in central NY.

Tioga County's official tourism site has a list of farms, many of which are worth a visit.  

  • Stop in to Side Hill Acres Goat Farm in Candor to visit the goats.  Call ahead to arrange a free tour to see how they make the cheese and learn more about the goats.  
  • Two local farms put on elaborate, free displays at Halloween time.  Check out their web pages for spring/summer fun.
    • Jackson's Pumpkin Farm is located in Campville, which is between Endicott and Owego.  Look for the free playground.
    • Iron Kettle Pumpkin Farm is located in Candor, past Owego has pumpkins are dressed up as children's favorite characters and nursery rhymes scenes. Bring your cameras! It is usually very crowded on weekends. Go during the week if you can.
Check out Cornell Cooperative Extension--Broome County for some more great activities, including the Broome County Open Farm Weekend the first weekend in October.

Sports

Many of the local towns offer sporting activities for the kids. Nonresidents are generally welcome, but pay a slightly higher fee.
  • Town of Union offers programs throughout the year for preschool through adults. Registration flyers are available 4 times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter).  For more information, see the seasonal flyer on the Town of Union Park and Recreation web site.
  • Town of Vestal also offers programs throughout the year.  During the summer Vestal has a free supervised playground program. For more information, call the Town of Vestal Recreation Department at (607) 754-3368.
  • For those that prefer to watch, we are the home of Binghamton Senators Hockey (farm team of the Ottawa Senators) and Binghamton Mets Baseball (farm team of the NY Mets)! Be sure to catch a home game!
  • Our area has 3 ice venues, all indoors:  (call for summer hours at the first two)
    • Broome Community College Ice Center (call 607-778-5ICE if website is unavailable) offers indoor skating on weekends and lunchtime during the week. Skate rental is available. Binghamton Figure Skating Club offers lessons here.
    • Chenango Ice Rink is used mainly for ice hockey, but may have some public skating sessions. 
    • Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, home of the Binghamton Senators Hockey, has a few free public skating sessions (no skate rental) each winter (call for info).  BC Winter Club offers Sunday afternoon lessons from Nov-Feb.
    • Arnold Park in Vestal and Highland Park in Town of Union have free outdoor ice skating (no rentals) weather permitting. 

Indoor Activities

  • The Discovery Center, our local children’s museum that focuses on hands-on imaginative play, also has activities for older kids during weekends and school breaks. Admission fee.
  • Skate Estate , Broome county's only roller skating rink, is a favorite hang out for kids 7 and under on winter mornings.  It is the only rink open during school hours and offers a session just for younger kids is called “Trike, Trot and Roll”.  Preschoolers can bring in bikes (the rink has a few trikes), push toys or just run around.  Skate rental is available if kids want to try skating, or the parent wants to get exercise (and the child cooperates).  Coupons are available on their website. Admission fee includes skate rental, popcorn and juice.  Laser tag, miniature golf and a water slide are also available.
  • The Binghamton area currently has three businesses, listed in alphabetical order, that offer open play on inflatable structures.
    • Jumping Jungle in Vestal
    • Taylor Rental in the northern part of Binghamton also has a tool rental business.  Call for inflatable play hours.
  • Wegmans grocery store has a free supervised play area for children while the parent is in the store.  In the cafe area, Moms can relax over a cup of coffee, a quiet lunch or read a book while the kids are happily playing.
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension Family Resource Center, a favorite free gathering place for our group, has three different rooms for the kids to enjoy while caregivers get a chance to socialize while watching their children interact with each other at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 20 Jefferson Avenue, Endicott, 785-4331
  • Binghamton PALS Family Resource Center  457 State St., Binghamton, 771-6334 is another free play area for kids.
  • The Four County Library System has lots of activities for kids of all ages including storytimes.  The Vestal library has toys to borrow, and most branches in Broome County have things for kids to play with in the children's section.  In the summer, look for free performances in the afternoon or evening. Note that not all the libraries in the systems post their events on the events page.
  • Tioga County residents are served by the Finger Lakes Library System, with storytimes and other free events open to the public.  For more information, visit the branch in Owego or Appalachin or any other location.

Outdoor Nature Activities

  • The Binghamton Visitors Center has a list of local walking trails, some of which are described below.
  • Waterman Nature Center, not far from Owego, has a special kid-friendly trail and a nature center with a couple of live animals and activities.  It also has inexpensive cross country ski rental during the winter.  This nature center manages sites, including the popular Glen at IBM.
  • Binghamton University Nature Preserve is also a favorite hiking spot.  The greenhouse (buillding Science 3 near the Anderson Center) is open to the public.
  • For some specific hikes in the area, check out http://www.atlasquest.com/.  This website is actually about letterboxing which can be a kid-friendly hobby.  The listings generally give directions to the trailhead, parking information, approximate length of the hike and instructions for the hike.  Not every listing on this site is kid-friendly, but it lets you know approximately how long the hike is and when the letterbox was last found.  Notes about finding some letterboxes: Snow Showers letterbox--We couldn't find the orange paint in step 4.  Instead look for a tree stump that you can easily sit on and go to step 5.  For The Bear Came Over the Mountain, sign #14 may be in the wrong place.  We found the letterbox using the 'if you go too far' instruction.
  • Check out the Owego River Walk which connects Ahwaga Park and Draper Park.  Look for these parks on this map of Tioga County and Owego.

Favorite Kid-Friendly Festivals

  • Sources of online calendars which include local festivals and events.  Note that they all have useful, but different information for activities with kids.
  • The annual Children's Fair in April is a local favorite.
  • Vestal has several kid-friendly festivals throughout the year.  The summer highlight is the Vestal Festival (first weekend in June) which includes Bathtub and Bed Races, free inflatables, a parade and other activities for kids (canceled in 2012).
  • Appalachian Firefighter's Field Days is during the first week in June and is listed on the Tioga County Calendar of Events.  Also check out Newark Valley Day in mid August.
  • The Owego Strawberry Festival is the third weekend in June.
  • Look for the Story Garden Old Fashion Summer Carnival around the last Tuesday in June.  Admission was $6/person for nonmembers in 2012.  For more information, see the Discovery Center's website or summer newsletter.
  • The major July 4 celebration is run by the Town of Union in Highland Park.
  • Around the third Saturday in July, Johnson City has begun celebrating an annual Carousel Day, look here for more info.
  • Speidie Fest and Balloon Rally in early August takes place in Otsingo Park. You can view the hot air balloons from several locations, especially from the parking lots along upper Front Street.
  • Johnson City Field Days take place Labor Day weekend.
  • See the Summer Planner in the Press&Sun Bulletin Memorial Day weekend.  It lists ethnic food festivals and other kid-friendly activities throughout the summer.
  • Click here for the summer perfomance schedule at Oak Hill Park in Endicott.
  • Look at Roberson Museum calendar for their free outdoor film series in the summer and/or fall.
  • Broome County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, INC. and Broome County Parks sponsors an annual Kids Fishing Derby at Cole Park.  Bring your own fishing rod.
  • The last weekend in September is National Alpaca Farm Days.  Local farms often participate.
  • The annual Broome County Ethnic Festival takes place on a Saturday in October (10/13 in 20120) in St, Michaels Greek Catholic Church in Binghamto

Other Attractions

  • The Bement-Billings House and Farmstead in Newark Valley is open weekends in the summer.
  • The Books Program website lists kids' programs, including the only children's theater series in Binghamton, Storytime Theatre.  Sign up here if your kids want to earn rewards for reading.
  • The Binghamton Zoo is small, but a worthwhile trip.  The zoo is closed from November 1 through early April, though special winter events are held in the education building in the zoo parking lot.  Call first if you want to go when school is in session to confirm hours.  During the Halloween event, most animal exhibits are closed, and members do not get free admission.
  • Roberson Museum has a planetarium and has free admission for members of ASTC museums.
  • Kopernik Observatory has programs and telescope viewing on Friday nights.  
  • Cider Mill is a local favorite in Endicott during the fall season.  You can stop in for a free tour to watch them make donuts and press their own apple cider.  Try a sample at the end of the tour. In addition, the Cider Mill has an attached playhouse and makes a wonderful date night outing.  They give free candy apples to kids in costume on Halloween.
  • The Phelps Mansion Museum has a special family holiday program at the end of December which includes a puppet show and a brief tour with small groups.
  • Susquehanna River Archaeological Center of Native Indian Studies is about an hour away in Waverly, NY.
  • The famous Corning Glass Museum is just a little bit farther west.  Their website lists special events and kid-friendly activities.

Local Stores with Free Activities

  • Endicott Airport Day at Tri-Cities Airport.  Free flights for young people, ages 8-17.  September 14, 2013 from 11am-3pm.  This is sponsored by EAA Young Eagles.  For more information, contact 607-785-2442.
  • Lowes Build and Grow alternate Saturday mornings
  • Home Depot 1st Saturday morning of the month
  • Michaels  free activities are often associated with holidays and listed in Sunday ad.
  • A.C. Moore--look in Sunday ad or call store
  • Barnes and Noble  hosts storytimes Wednesday morning and Friday evening, special events (Note June 2012 kids events are not listed online) and a summer reading program.
  • Pick up a free comic book the first Saturday in May.
  • Toys 'R Us has free activities on some Saturdays. 
  • The Oakdale Mall in Johnson City has a free program called Center Kids on Saturday afternoon a month.  The program is located in a library lending area near JC Penney.

Daytrips

  • Ithaca Sciencenter is one of our favorite hands-on science museums.  It is big enough to have lots to do yet small enough that it is not overwhelming.  The outdoor science exhibits are tons of fun and are open in the spring and fall.  Admission to the Ithaca Science Center is free to members of the Discovery Center and members of ASTC museums.  Here is more info about things to do with kids in Ithaca.
  • Cayuga Nature Center in Ithaca has live animal and hands-on exhibits as well as a huge treehouse and hiking trails outside.
  • A trip to Syracuse can include the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and Museum of Science and Technology.
  • Cooperstown is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Farmer's Museum.  At the Farmer's Museum, kids can milk a fake cow and try out games kids played 100 years ago.  Note that the the carousel ride is an extra charge.
  • Binghamton is not far from Susquehanna County, PA and about 50 miles from Scranton, PA.
  • Outside of Oneonta is the Hanford Mills Museum with historical exhibits and activities.
  • Upstate New York and Pennsylvania have several National Park Sites within a few hours of Binghamton including Steamtown National Historical Site.  School age kids can earn a Junior Ranger Certificate at many of the National Parks.  Be sure to ask a Park Ranger for more information.
  • A Classic Car Museum is located in Norwich, NY.

Useful Kid-related Web Links

And More...

Do you need ideas of things to do with your kids?  This area offers so many fun activities and the moms in our chapter know so much about the "hidden gems" around town. So consider joining us and unlocking the secret treasures in our area....
 
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